Blue Springs South running back Steven Sullivan admits it.

Blue Springs South running back Steven Sullivan admits it.

After the Jaguars allowed 21 unanswered points in a nightmarish third quarter of their Class 6 state semifinal game at Francis Howell High School last Friday, the standout senior was feeling the pressure.

“We had a 20-0 lead,” Sullivan said, “and all of a sudden, we were down by 21-20. I was kind of scared. I still had faith in everyone, but I admit it, I was kind of scared.”
That’s when Mr. Everything took over for the Jaguars.

Senior quarterback Connor Harris – one of Sullivan’s good friends and the heart and soul of the Jaguar football team – showed everyone what leaders are made of.

“Connor was so calm, he was such a great leader in the huddle.” Sullivan said.  “We all knew we were going to win that game. It wasn’t like any huddle I’d ever been it. It’s hard to describe – he just took over and we knew we had it.”

Starting on their own 22-yard line, the Jaguars drove the length of the field, and the player who was feeling jittery just a few minutes before one of the biggest drives of the season scored the biggest touchdown of his life in a 28-21 victory that put fourth-ranked South in the 7:30 p.m., Friday Class 6 state championship game against No. 1-ranked Christian Brothers College at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Sullivan scored on a 10-yard run, then dove into the end zone for a 2-point conversion that gave South a seven-point lead.

“I scored the touchdown, but everyone contributed,” Sullivan said. “That was a total team effort – amazing.

“Gosh, I don’t remember if we even threw a pass that last (touchdown drive),” South coach Greg Oder said. “But I remember how calm Connor was in the huddle. I don’t remember the plays, but I remember his leadership, how he just took the game over.

“It was pretty special to watch. The touchdown was huge, but the 2-point run might have been even bigger.”

Late in the game, Harris picked off a pass and South picked up two first downs on its final possession to make sure the Vikings never got back on the field. Now, South (11-2) is headed to the state championship game for the third time in the past six years.

“It’s like a dream,” Harris said.

“When we went to state my freshman year, we took two buses of players. All the guys who were playing went on the first bus and the freshmen were on the second bus. I wondered what it was like on that first bus.

“When we lost the game, a bunch of us were standing on the sidelines saying, ‘When we’re seniors, we’re going to win state.’

“That has always been our dream. Now, we can make it a reality – just one more win.”
But a win over CBC (13-0) could be the biggest challenge Harris and Co. have faced all season.

“They’re good,” said Harris, who also plays safety and is the Jaguars’ punter and  kicker. “They’re really good. They score like 45 points a game and beat Francis Howell really bad.

“But we’re a good team, too. And we’ve worked too hard this season – really, we’ve worked too hard the past four years – to not give it everything we have and win the championship.

“We respect them, but we don’t fear them. We don’t fear any team.”

That was evident when Harris came out to the huddle for that final drive against Francis Howell.

“People talk about me being a leader,” Harris said, “but all 11 guys on the field were leaders in last drive to score the touchdown. I looked at guys, and knew everyone was in.

“Everyone on the field knew we were going down and scoring. I knew Steven was going to score that touchdown and I knew he was going to get the 2-point conversion. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew it.”

When asked about his demeanor in the huddle, Harris just grinned.

“When you walk out to the huddle, and see that everyone is paying attention and everyone is ready to do their job, it makes my job easy,” he said. “It was a different huddle. We just knew we were going to get it done.”

And they did.

“Now, we have to get it done again this Friday,” Harris said. “Win or lose, the season is over this week. We turn in our gear next week. It’s just hard to believe, it doesn’t seem that long ago when we were on the sidelines down at state, wondering what it would be like to win state as a senior.”

Now, they can find the answer to that question Friday. And Harris will finally find out what it’s like riding in that first bus.